Poached Eggs

In this special breakfast edition of Diet for Foodies we are doing poached eggs.  I have been struggling with soft eggs for years.  The issue has been made worse because Ben’s favorite breakfast is soft boiled eggs over toast.  When he was a baby all of his adenoids were super inflamed, so all he could comfortably eat until he was three was donuts and eggs.  And he still loves eggs.  But I always manage to screw it up.  When I tried it with soft boiled eggs I always managed to go either too long and made it all hard, or too short, and the whites weren’t done.  It was very frustrating.  So I bought one of those white microwave egg poacher things from the grocery store.  You know the ones.  They hang them up next to the eggs, and they look like a contact case.   I did what it said, but it was always a mess.  I could never figure out exactly how long to do it.  And when I was putting it in the microwave I always managed to have some spill out of the container and make a mess on the bottom. 

I was watching Julie and Julia again a few weeks ago and there is a scene where Julie tries poached eggs.  She was following Julia’s directions, so of course it was the old fashioned way–doing it straight in hot water.  When I was little my mom used to make poached eggs every once in a while.  She had an egg poacher.  It was an insert to put in a pan.  It had little individual cups in a ring to hold the eggs.  I have been looking for one to go in my revere ware pans, but I haven’t been able to find any in the price range I wanted.  But this morning I wanted to make eggs and toast for Ben, so I decided to take a shot at the old fashioned method.  I googled how to poach eggs in boiling water and found some very good hints, which I will pass along.

Eggs are a great breakfast food.  As we have all heard in the past few years, protein is very important to controlling hunger all day long, as well as to sustain your body.  Protein is the essential nutrient in almost everything your body does, it is the basic building block.  It makes your muscles work, it makes your mucus, it makes everything.  But it also takes longer for your stomach and body to process into a useable form, so it keeps you fuller longer.  But eggs provide more than just protein.  As the incredibleegg.com site informs us, it contains 13 nutrients, many of which I had not heard of.  Eggs have about a quarter of your daily value of choline.  This mineral is essential to transporting nutrients around the body, as well as brain function.  It is also good at preventing birth defects.  Along the baby line, it also contains 6% of your daily need of folate–which helps make red blood cells and proper fetal development.  You will also get a quarter of your daily requirement of selenium which is an antioxidant.  As we have heard, antioxidants help prevent and treat chronic illness.  Other nutrients include riboflavin, vitamins, A, D, B6 and B12, phosphorus, pantothenic acid, iron, zinc and calcium.  You also get healthy fats (unsaturated fats), and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.  All in all, good stuff.

For poached eggs you need the freshest eggs possible.  At this time of year, unfortunately that means getting them from the grocery store.  Chickens don’t lay many eggs in winter.  We usually get our eggs from a neighbor who has a huge garden and chickens and cows.  But they don’t make enough of them to sell in the winter.  So we have to wait until spring.  One solution is to have your own backyard chickens.  There is currently a movement through Sustainable Food Denver to allow small amounts of “food producing animals” in Denver backyards without a permit.  The proposal at the moment is to allow 8 female chickens and 2 female dwarf goats without a permit.  Fortunately for us, we live in unincorporated Jefferson County, so we can have chickens if we want.  And I am considering it.  If you want the very freshest eggs possible, you can always have your own chickens.

Poached Eggs


  1. Eggs, as many as you want, and as fresh as possible.  Bring them to room temperature.  If they are fresh from the fridge, you can run them under warm water and that works pretty fast.
  2. Toast, I like a piece per egg
  3. Salt and pepper to taste
  4. Optional special tools: an egg ring or mason jar rings, or a small tuna can


  1. Put water to about 3 in deep into a sautee pan or pot large enough to hold all the eggs you want.
  2. Pour the eggs into individual small bowls or ramekins.  You want to make sure that they are whole and not bad, and it makes it easier to pour into the water.
  3. Bring the water to a boil.  Reduce it to a rapid simmer.  I reduced it too far when I did it this morning.  Make sure you have a good fast simmer going.  But you don’t want it to boil, that will make for a tough egg that cooks too fast.  If you have a thermometer, go for 170 deg.
  4. Ring Option (recommended): it helps hold them together if you use some kind of ring or poaching cup.  You can use a ring made for the purpose, as linked above, or for a cheap and easy way, you can use the ring of mason jars, like I did.  You can buy just the rings in the grocery store in the section with the preserving things.  Another, even easier way, is to use a small tuna can.  Take off both the top and the bottom and take off the paper.  That makes a nice metal ring.  Put the rings in the water.  Put the edge of the bowl just under the water and slip the egg into the ring.
  5. No Rings: put the lip of the bowl under the water and slide the egg into the water. Have a spoon ready.  Immediently after you put it in, gather the whites around the yolk so that they don’t go everywhere.
  6. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 3 minutes
  7. Rip your toast into pieces in your bowl. 
  8. Take the eggs out with a slotted spoon, let the water drip off.  Put the eggs over the toast  Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

About dietforfoodies

I am a lawyer who loves to grow, cook, and eat food.
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